After eventful day in Laguna
Valentino Rossi recovered from an unlucky fall in this morning's free practice session to qualify in fifth position today, putting his Fiat Yamaha Team M1 onto the middle of the second row for tomorrow's US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca.
and home favourite Colin Edwards meanwhile struggled with set-up problems and was unable to replicate his front-row performance of last year, qualifying eighth.
Rossi's crash this morning occurred at the exit of turn six, when he touched an area of unlevel asphalt where the edge of the track meets the kerb. He was sent skidding off his M1 and was lucky to escape with only a cut to the little finger of his left hand and some bruising to his right hand. The Italian sat out the remainder of the session while he received treatment on both hands but was fortunately able to get back out to contest this af ternoon's qualifying.
The afternoon session was red-flagged after just a few minutes when Marco Melandri crashed, and it was another twenty minutes before pit-lane re-opened and qualifying recommenced. Rossi and Edwards spent the time making final adjustments and decisions about tyres and set-up ahead of tomorrow's 32 lap race, before making their bids for grid positions with qualifying tyres in the last 15 minutes. Rossi briefly held a front-row position in third but was edged into fifth when first Nicky Hayden and then Casey Stoner went above him, Stoner taking pole in a time of 1'22 292.
Edwards made improvements to his pace during the session but could not quite get close enough to the front runners and his best lap 0.651 seconds shy of pole.
Tomorrow's race gets underway at 1400 West Coast time, 2300 CET
"My crash this morning was very unfortunate, because there's a very small section of the track where the new asphalt is at a different level to the kerb, and I lost the rear when I touched this. I paid a high price for a very small mistake! In fact I was very lucky because it's a bad place to crash, going 180km/h with the throttle open in third. I slid a long way on the track so when I came onto the gravel I was already going quite slowly, but it was a shock because I didn't expect it. I hurt the little finger of my left hand a little and also had some pain in the right hand, but after some treatment and ice I was okay to ride this afternoon. After this, the second row is not so bad and all the riders in front are fast, with a good pace, so I should be able to push hard from the start. I am expecting a very competitive race tomorrow but we have a good rhythm and I am quite confident that we can fight at the front. I want to say a big thank you to all my guys because they did an amazing job to rebuild the bike in just two hours."
"I'm disappointed with today because we've got some fairly serious issues to deal with, especially with the front tyre, and so far we haven't been able to find a way around the problem. We've turned everything upside-down but so far it hasn't worked. It wasn't much better with the qualifying tyre, the bike felt really nervous and basically spent the whole lap holding on instead of pushing. We're going to have a long meeting now and come up with some bright ideas for tomorrow!"
"The good news is that Valentino was able to ride this afternoon after what really quite a big crash this morning. Fifth position in the circumstances is very good, even if we know that it's going to be a very hard race tomorrow. He needs to make a good start and put some work in to stay in touch, as usual, but he has a good pace. We have some more work to do with Colin, as he has struggled a bit today. We will work hard now to find a better way to put everything together for him in order to make him more comfortable tomorrow. The new surface might affect the tyres tomorrow and it's a long race so we will try hard to make sure we make the right decisions and that we're in the best possible shape with both riders."